The Pocket Parks Collective, Facebook
The Pocket Parks Collective, Facebook

Phone-Only Sidewalk Lanes Keep Texters in Line

The Pocket Parks Collective, Facebook
The Pocket Parks Collective, Facebook

The product of a guerilla marketing campaign by smartphone company MLab, Belgium's new “text walking lanes” are an attempt to keep distracted pedestrians from bumping into the rest of us. The manufacturer, of course, claims it created the texting-only lanes in Antwerp as a means of protecting people’s phones from damages caused by pedestrian collisions.

Similar lanes were painted in "Foreigner Street," a theme park located in the Chinese city of Chongqing, and last summer, the Nat Geo show Mind Over Masses painted lanes in Washington D.C. as part of a behavioral experiment. 

As joyous as it would be to speed down sidewalks without having to brake for distracted texters, it’s unlikely that the separate lanes will have any impact. Mainly because the texters won’t notice. 

When Nat Geo observed pedestrians' interactions with the new lanes, they found that the people on their phones generally didn’t see the lanes—or if they did, they viewed them as nothing more than an Instagram opp, stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to gawk or take a picture. 

But perhaps the biggest problem with phone-only lanes is that people who text on the go have trouble walking in straight lines. So even if a texter is careful to enter into the appropriate lane, more likely than not, he or she will swerve right out of it again. 

Instead of painting separate lanes, one town in New Jersey has gone the extra mile to curb this technological epidemic. In 2012, Fort Lee banned texting while walking, and now fines violators a whopping $85. 

[h/t Bored Panda]

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

This Just In
What Do You Get the Person Who Has Everything? Perhaps a German Village for Less Than $150,000

Looking for a gift for the world traveler who has everything? If cost isn't an issue and they're longing for a quiet country home, Fortune reports that an entire village in East Germany is up for sale. The tiny hamlet of Alwine, in Germany's Brandenburg region, is going up for auction on Saturday, December 9. Opening bids begin at $147,230.

Alwine has around one dozen buildings and 20 full-time residents, most of them elderly. It was once owned by a neighboring coal plant, which shut down in 1991, soon after East Germany reunited with West Germany. Many residents left after that. Between 1990 and 2015, the regional population fell by 15 percent, according to The Local.


In 2000, a private investor purchased the decaying hamlet for just one Deutsche Mark (the currency used before the euro). But its decline continued, and now it's up for grabs once more—this time around, for a much-higher price.

Andreas Claus, the mayor of the district surrounding Alwine, wasn't informed of the village's sale until he heard about it in the news, according to The Local. While no local residents plan to purchase their hometown, Claus says he's open to fostering dialogue with the buyer, with hopes of eventually revitalizing the local community.

[h/t Fortune]


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